New Senate bill has animal advocates barking back

New Senate bill has animal advocates barking back
Levity Tompkinson (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Levity Tompkinson (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The goal was to strengthen Kentucky's stance on dog fighting, but with recently added language, animal advocates say the bill has now created a loophole that allows dog fighting.

Senate Bill 14, with a committee substitution, passed the senate last week. Animal advocates, along with the Humane Society of the United States, said the original version, filed January 6, was good. They're upset about the added language.

As written, the law states in part: "Any person who knowingly owns, possesses, keeps, breeds, trains, sells, or otherwise transfers a domestic dog from the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris for the primary purpose of that dog being used to fight another domestic dog from the subspecies Canis lupus familiaris for pleasure or profit is guilty of furthering dog fighting."

Animal Advocate Levity Tompkinson pointed out two concerns in the committee substitution.

"One of the issues deals with the word 'primary,'" she said. "Because a defendant could say the primary purpose of my dog is companionship, not dog fighting."

Supporter of the bill and licensed lawyer, Senator Robin L. Webb (D), has a different interpretation of the word "primary" as it is written.

"It was not deemed to be a loop hole," Webb said. "It is a legal standard to be utilized to protect any innocent person that would participate in helping that animal that was used in a fight."

Those who have honest intentions of having hunting dogs and using them for field trial shouldn't feel threatened, according to Tompkinson. "Senate Bill 14, as originally filed, explicitly exempted hunting dogs and trials."

However, Webb did not think it protected those sports enough.

"I do advocate for protecting my cultural heritage and being able to hunt with a dog, train a dog, have a pure bred dog and a sporting dog and all those things," Webb said. "Yeah, that is important
to me and I will continue to fight for that."

But, according to Tompkinson, it is others, who might use that description and have different motives that need to be punished.

"It is not about humans, it is about the dogs and protecting the dogs in our state who are, may be or have been a part of dog fighting," Tompkinson said.

Webb said she is not for dog fighting and wants to protect the dogs, too.

"Everybody in the general assembly, that I know, is for animal welfare," she said.

Tompkinson's other concern was language in SB 14 that states: "Activities of animals engaged in hunting, field trials, and dog training, and other activities authorized either by a hunting license or by the Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources or sanctioned by the American Kennel Club, the United Kennel Club, or other accredited national organizations shall not constitute a violation of this section."

Several accredited national organizations participate in dog fighting, according to Tompkinson.

Author of Senate Bill 14, Senator Paul Hornback, feels the argument is a lack of compromise from both sides.

"Both hunters and animal activists want more than what is possible," he said. 

Senate Bill 14 will now have to pass through the House before approval.

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